Việt Nam against Malaysia in the World Cup qualifying round last year. Photo thethao247.vn
HÀ NỘI FIFA is considering reducing the number of matches in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could boost Việt Nam's chances of qualifying for the tournament for the first time ever.
The world football governing body has discussed plans to postpone all matches in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers this year until 2021.
The plan would mean a very tight schedule, with the Euros, Copa America and Olympics currently slated for next year.
To deal with this issue, FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani revealed that the organisation is considering slimming down the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
“We’re likely going to be having to seriously look at reformatting some of our events," said Montagliani.
"We’re committed to our final four (in the Nations League). But we have other events that we have to probably look at reformatting, whether it’s some of our youth competitions, even our World Cup qualifying, where we’re going to have to, in the balance of probabilities, look at how that would work in a situation where the calendar there is now less than what we expected it to be.”
In the Asian region, FIFA plans to remove the home-away match format in the final qualifying round and host a round-robin format at a single venue.
If the plan is approved, Việt Nam could be set to benefit, providing, of course, they proceed past the second qualifying round.
If coach Park Hang-seo's men make it to the third and final round of qualification, they would only play half the number of matches originally scheduled.
The third qualifier will have 12 teams with eight group winners and four top runners-up from the second round. The 12 teams would be divided into two groups with each team playing each other once for a total of five matches, instead of 10.
Playing a reduced number of matches seems likely to benefit Việt Nam as given that the side would likely face some of Asia's strongest teams, a shorter format more suitable for shocks would suit them more than a protected group stage.
Similar small formats allowed Việt Nam to stun the continent at the AFC U23 Championship 2018 and Asian Games 2018.
At present, Việt Nam lead Group G in the World Cup second qualifying round with 11 points. VNS